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Sunday Sitdown: Former Penn State All-American LaVar Arrington talks about mentoring young athletes

"They have a sixth sense to be able to detect BS"

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — ***The following is an excerpt from our interview with Lavar Arrington.  This segment aired on Sunday Sports Frenzy.  Part two will air in a future show and the full interview will be published on FOX43'S YouTube page.***  

FOX43 Sports had the chance to speak with former Penn State All-American and NFL All-Pro linebacker LaVar Arrington on a wide range of topics. The former Nittany Lions star discussed how social media is allowing more athletes to connect with younger players in today's world.

LaVar also went into depth about athletes who have been successful reaching out to empower and help develop young athletes through mentoring.

One of the schools that LaVar mentored this season was ELCO (Eastern Lebanon County School District) a mid-sized rural school district in Lebanon County.

This is part one in a series with Arrington that includes the direction of college athletics, his recent comments on Penn State's approval of renovations to the football facilities and on former Nittany Lions Micah Parsons and Jayson Oweh as they prepare for the draft.  

LaVar Arrington - Former Penn State All-American Linebacker

"I think ultimately when you mentor and when you're apart of youth they have a sixth sense to be able to detect BS. So if you don't genuinely care about these kids, if you're not joining in it they they figure it out and they sniff it out and the respect factor is different and I think that the level of expectation is different as well, so for me it's just always been about connecting on a very genuine and organic level."

Andrew Kalista: How does that connection you make help that athlete develop?

LaVar Arrington - Former Penn State All-American Linebacker

"For me I always achieved at a high level because I was fortunate enough to meet some really, really successful athletes when I was growing up. And all I could think of was ‘Wow they're normal,’ like it might sound crazy but it's like they are a person and I think when you're able to humanize someone that isn't necessarily human in any other regard. It gives you the belief that you know ‘I can be that person,’ and so when you make that connection and that contact and you're speaking to them on you know whether it's me or someone else, but just me in particular speaking on me I just enjoy connecting on a level where they know that we're in this together."

Andrew Kalista: Of all the great programs in Pennsylvania you were a mentor at ELCO how did that come about?

LaVar Arrington

"A person that I have a tremendous affinity for, not the wife of coach Miller, but Larissa Miller, one of my buddies, that's where she went to school and I heard so many great things about the school that it was a no brainer to want to be apart of those guys and then once I met them and met coach Miller and had a conversation with them it was just it was amazing.  You know it was amazing the opportunity, it was amazing the camaraderie that we built so quickly and it just went to show that in the midst of adversity, that you can still find some really, really cool wins and it was just really, I was just really excited to be a part of them and to follow their season and see the type of excitement and dedication that was connected to what they were doing."

Andrew Kalista: Coach Miller didn't really talk about the wins on the field it was more of take care of the small things off of it and that would relate to bigger things on the field of competition. Can that philosophy go to other programs?

LaVar Arrington: That's the thing right, but I think sometimes we get confused as to what winning represents.  And just listening to the speeches and how he (Miller) unfolded his messages through writing books like through the season. So he has this really creative, innovative way of how he communicates with his players by them writing a paragraph of the book for each week of the game which I thought was just brilliant on his part and on his behalf. Wins matter, they do matter. Anybody tells you wins don't matter you're sugarcoating what competition is all about. Right? You don't want to teach your kid that losing is OK. That participating is just all it needs to be.  Oh just participate, no no,  winning matters but it's also how you go about winning. And I think protecting the integrity and developing a sense of identity that's where what goes along with proper winning. Preparing with a winner's mindset is ultimately the key, but you also have to win to understand that a winning mindset comes along with, you know, results! You can’t convince me that a winning mindset is a winning mindset if you're a loser, like if you're losing just doesn't make sense, it's an oxymoron. It's a contradiction.  That's like saying that light and darkness can exist together it doesn't, it doesn't work that way."